February 14, 2019 [St. Louis] – After nearly ten years of presiding over the growth of the Cortex Innovation Community, President & CEO Dennis Lower will be stepping down at the end of the year. “I came to Cortex because I saw the compelling commitment of its founders and the opportunity to leverage regional assets to establish an internationally recognized innovation hub. It has been a privilege to be part of an initiative that is not only strengthening the economic future of St. Louis, but is also having a global impact.”
Hank Webber, Chairman of the Board of Cortex and Executive Vice Chancellor of Washington University, said, “Dennis has done an exceptional job building and growing Cortex. His contributions to economic advancement, innovation and inclusion have been remarkable. We could not have had a stronger CEO for the past ten years.”
The creation of an innovation community
After a national search in 2010, Mr. Lower was hired to build upon the foundation established by the Cortex Board of Directors to redevelop the area between the BJC/Washington University Medical Center and Saint Louis University as a thriving urban, technology-driven innovation district. In the last nine years, Cortex has made dramatic progress toward achieving this vision, turning vacant land and abandoned industrial buildings into a thriving, mixed-use, technology community. Under Mr.
Lower’s leadership, Cortex has grown more than ten-fold, from 35 companies in 2010, to 390 companies, academic units, and retail establishments boasting 5,700 employees.
Today, Cortex companies annually generate nearly $342 million of direct payroll, the benefit of which is multiplied throughout the region. The District hosts companies and programs that support startups, including the Cambridge Innovation Center, Venture Café St. Louis, Innovation Hall, EdHub STL, BioSTL, BioGenerator Accelerator Labs, Center for Emerging Technologies, Capital Innovators, iSelect, and the Ameren Energy Accelerator. Joining with this entrepreneurial energy have been established tech- related corporates, including Microsoft, AB Mauri North America, Alcami, Square, Boeing, Accenture, Express Scripts, Centene, Aon, Ascension Technologies, DuPont, Booz Allen Hamilton, ESRI, OG Systems, Emerson, Mastercard, and IKEA, among others. District growth has also had a significant impact on the surrounding Midtown, Central West End and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods. In the last four years nearly $1 billion of private development has occurred, making it one of the hottest real estate markets in the St. Louis region.
But there is much more to be done. The long-term goal is for Cortex to have 15,000 jobs on its campus, double the number of startups and established tech-related companies, and make St. Louis one of America’s leading centers of innovation and entrepreneurship. To accomplish this next level of growth, a national search will soon begin to find Mr. Lower’s successor.